Substance use, mental and sexual health in same-, opposite- and both-sex attracted adolescents.

Poster A127, Monday, October 8, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Elon Gersh1, Laura P Richardson2, David Breland2, Carolyn A McCarty2; 1Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, 2Seattle Children's Research Institute

Background: Evidence suggests that sexual minority youth are at increased vulnerability to mental health issues, but the picture for substance abuse is less clear, and research has often failed to distinguish between same- and both-sex attracted adolescents. This study aimed to examine adolescent substance use, mental and sexual health across sexual attraction groups. Method: 428 adolescents (69% female, 29% male, 2% other) aged 13-18 (M=16.09) were recruited from three school based health centers. Participants completed electronic self-report measures of health risks and sexual attraction (options included opposite, same, both-sex, not sure and none). Logistic regression models were used to examine the association between sexual attraction and the presence of health risks. Age and gender were entered as covariates. Results: Overall, 72% of adolescents were only opposite sex-attracted, 19% both-sex attracted, 3% same-sex attracted, 4% not sure and 2% reported no attraction. Females were more likely to be both-sex attracted (23% of females) than males (6% both-sex attracted). Compared to the opposite-sex attraction group the following was found: 1) The both-sex attraction group had significantly higher rates of marijuana use, depression and inconsistent condom use. 2) The “not sure” group had higher rates of anxiety. 3) The same-sex attracted group was comparatively not at elevated risk for any health risk. Discussion: Results point to the importance in research and practice to consider sexual attraction in a more differentiated fashion, including opposite-, same- and both-sex attraction. Larger samples are needed to better inform supports and interventions for these potentially vulnerable groups.

Topic Area: Substance Use

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